Longest Serving Prime Minister Made Fortune In Canterbury’s Gold Fields – 1868

In 1868, the last year that the West Coast was a part of the Canterbury region, Richard ‘King Dick’ Seddon – destined to become New Zealand’s longest serving Prime Minister and pictured here on the far right – was trying his luck amongst many others in the hunt for gold. He prospered so much there, that he was able to open a store, situated close to Waimea Creek and marry the love of his life, Louisa Jane Spotswood.

It was there that he got a taste for political life, becoming an advocate for miner’s rights and interests. Along with his passionate speeches, he was a fine athlete and fist fighter, making a name for himself in more than one social circle.

Richard found swimming in the political pool with bigger fish less than pleasant as he moved up the ranks. Mocked for his lack of education and his passion for the rights of the ‘common’ man, his shortcomings were constantly thrown back in his face.
He also had the habit of dropping the ‘h’ off his words when he spoke so you can imagine this had a startling effect during his speeches!

This did not hold him back, it made him more determined.

In the 1890′s, he was involved high up in the Liberal Party that was governing New Zealand at the time. When Prime Minster John Ballance became ill, Richard placed himself in the leadership role, convincing his fellow liberal leaders that he was the best candidate for it. Robert Stout, who should have taken over was extremely put out by this and was a harsh critic until Richard’s death in 1906. And it was only death that made Richard let go of the reins of the country – despite the constant demands that he retire. After all, he had been Prime Minister for 13 years!!!

For a more in depth look at Richard Seddon, please check out the following link: http://www.peelingbackhistory.co.nz/richard-king-dick-seddon-1845-1906/

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